by Todd Mercer
The wheat’s heavy on the back-eighty,
and the baby’s coming before snowfall.
The reaping machine needs replacement
parts. The cows are singing lamentations,
bovine mothers of the disappeared, stuck
in the milking service. Ferrous oxide
sculptures dot the slope behind the barn:
the pickup truck that died in ’99. The hay rake
with snapped-off teeth. Cherry shaker that shook apart,
they all shake apart with use. The car
that died in 1986. The farm’s seen better days,
but the house has vitality. A kitchen garden
still lush with fresh herbs though frost’s coming.
The baby’s nursery smells of new paint. The farmer
is on the floor in there, screwing
myriad crib parts together. The farmer’s wife
is glowing like a minor saint, she’s still
working hard. Next year no wheat crop.
Half that acreage should be set in corn,
the rest left to a fallow year, regeneration.
Cycles and cycles, not only the fields,
but all of life here. These arcs of boom
and bust and boom, they’re barb-wire strings
pulled taut by the earth’s rotation,
making tension through the farm story
of ordered things and entropy.
Food for thought, it’s food for livelihood.